Each year, The Flat Hat covers a variety of events, trends and other happenings throughout campus, Williamsburg and the wider community. Below is a recap of the important events of last year — listed in no particular order — alongside ongoing stories and trends students will continue to see in the 2014-15 year.
Recent “Guardians of the Galaxy” actress Glenn Close ’74 visited the College last October. The alumna returned to mentor theatre students and accept the Cheek Medal Award during the 2013 Arts and Entertainment Conference. In conjunction with her visit, The Muscarelle Museum of Art featured the “Glenn Close: A Life in Costume” exhibit, which included the actress’ costumes from “101 Dalmatians,” “Fatal Attraction” and more. Following the year of Close, The Flat Hat will continue to watch for announcements pertaining to this year’s Arts and Entertainment Conference.
In January, a leaked email from the Zeta Upsilon chapter of the Sigma Chi fraternity went viral. In response, approximately 700 members of the College community gathered in the Sadler Center to discuss the email as well as rape culture. The email spurred discussion throughout campus, including in The Flat Hat’s Opinion’s section through a variety of guest columns.
Two months later, the College was listed as one of the 55 colleges and universities that the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights will review for their handling of sexual violence and harassment.
For years, members of the College community have petitioned Virginia to allow its public colleges and universities to provide domestic partner health insurance. Last year, former Rector of the Board of Visitors Jeffrey Trammell ’73 — the first openly gay rector at the College and in the state — strongly encouraged state colleges and universities to fight for a new policy allowing for domestic partner benefits, emphasizing that institutions are losing their competitive edge when trying to hold on to faculty and staff members who have same-sex partners. The College’s Faculty Assembly also passed a resolution encouraging state leaders to increase benefits given to same-sex partners of university employees. In October, Trammell married his long-time partner in the Supreme Court in a ceremony officiated by retired Supreme Court Justice and former College Chancellor Sandra Day O’Connor.
Same-sex benefits continue to be a topic of discussion at the College. Some students and faculty are involved through William and Larry, an organization dedicated to the issue.
While Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s election occurred in November and The Flat Hat reported on the students and student organizations that volunteered for his campaign, the politician continued to influence campus throughout the spring. McAuliffe followed College Chancellor Robert Gates ’65 as February’s Charter Day speaker (Gates spoke in 2012 and 2013) and later signed a law removing “free speech zones” at Virginia colleges alongside appointing three new Board of Visitor members in June. Two months later, the College was listed as one of the 55 colleges and universities that the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights will review for their handling of sexual violence and harassment.
Last November, the College community faced the tragic loss of Austin “Gus” Deeds, a former student. Two months later, Gus’ father, Virginia Senator Creigh Deeds, D-Va., introduced legislation to the Senate that addresses mental health services in the commonwealth. The legislation passed unanimously.
Mental health outreach and education is an important avenue of service for many students. Initiatives include Tribe Rides, a program that assists students who need transportation to off-campus counseling facilities. The topic also remained prominent in the 2013 and 2014 Student Assembly elections.
Though it won’t take effect until fall 2015, the Class of 2018 may still be affected by the curriculum changes the College’s faculty assembly approved last year. Passing with 55 percent of the vote, the new curriculum will eventually replace the current GER system.
Last year, the College campus saw the addition of fraternity complex, the Sadler Center renovation, the newly reopened Tucker Hall, the converted hotel, One Tribe Place, and the recently renovated Brafferton,
This year, The Flat Hat expects to see continued work in designing the third installment of the Integrated Science Center, construction around Chandler Hall (closed this year), Tyler Hall, Plumeri Park practice building, the One Tribe Place basement and other currently unused spaces. These construction and renovation efforts are part of the College’s 20-year plan, which includes potential renovations to the Alumni House, the addition of the Arts Quarter to Phi Beta Kappa Hall and renovations to Zable Stadium. These renovations remain in the feasibility study phase.
Regardless of their phase, the buildings and structures on campus continue to be renovated, so be prepared for more construction updates throughout the next few years at the College.
Last spring, the College chose not to renew former dining vendor Aramark’s contract and instead brought in a new vendor, Sodexo. Planned changes to dining following the switch include a made-to-order salad station in the Sadler Center dining area, alongside the “Maize” and “Natural” stations, which will cater to special dietary needs. The Commons, or “Caf,” will add a seafood station and special diets stations alongside a stronger emphasis on eating local.
In addition, Aroma’s — a popular coffee shop in Colonial Williamsburg — will be featured in the Mews Cafe in Earl Gregg Swem Library. Sodexo will also provide an outdoor, “movable” restaurant — BBQ 1693 — as well as the Wholly Habaneros Mexican food truck.
Most recently, Sodexo and the Tribe Square restaurants — Pita Pit, MOOYAH Burgers, Fries, and Shakes and The Crust — reached an agreement that permits students to use their Dining Dollars at the local establishments. In January, The Flat Hat reported that these restaurants attributed dropping revenue to the gradual implementation of a required meal plan for students living on campus. This year marks the first year that all students living on campus are required to have a meal plan.